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Parkland Refinery pays City of Burnaby $32K for emergency response in January

Burnaby billed the Parkland Refinery for a fire-department response in January, when a malfunction sent a plume of foul-smelling emissions across parts of Metro Vancouver. The refinery paid the $31,872.30 invoice last month.

The Parkland Refinery has cut the City of Burnaby a $31,872.30 cheque to cover the cost of the fire department's emergency response to an industrial incident that sent a plume of burnt-rubber stink across parts of Metro Vancouver in January.

The city deployed 34 firefighters and eight fire trucks to the refinery on Jan. 21, forcing the fire department to backfill the positions to maintain a regular level of service, fire Chief Chris Bowcock told mayor and council at a meeting after the incident.

Workers had tried to restart the refinery after a shutdown during extreme cold weather, and a blocked pipe had led to the emission, which included steam and sulphur dioxide, according to Parkland.

All told, Bowcock said the fire department response cost the city about $30,000.

Mayor Mike Hurley criticized Parkland's communications during the incident, saying he had to find out through media reports that nine Parkland workers asked for first aid.

"This is not how good neighbours behave," Hurley said at a January city council meeting.

City council also voted to have staff investigate a way to recover the cost of the fire department response.

"While that sum may not be that large in the grand scheme of things, I still think Burnaby taxpayers should not be on the hook for this," Coun. Daniel Tetrault said at the meeting. "And it also sends a message that polluting companies will be held accountable for damages they cause in our communities."

The city ultimately billed Parkland under the city's fire services bylaw.

The refinery paid up on Feb. 29, according to a letter included in council correspondence posted online.

The company said it values its relationship with the city and has begun efforts to "establish a new trajectory of engagement going forward."

Then it promised to throw in extra cash on top of the bill for the emergency response.

"As a commitment to our value of 'Community' and in being a good neighbour, we will also be increasing our social investment for this year by the same amount as the above payment."

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